The last of Wells's major utopian fantasies is a documentary fiction that attempts to reconnect the utopian future with the present by means of an imaginary future history.|
The Shape-of Things to Come is a work of science fiction by H. G. Wells, published in 1933, which speculates on future events from 1933 until the year 2106. It is not a novel, but rather a fictional history book or chronicle, similar in style to Star Maker and Last and First Men, both by Olaf Stapledon.
Wells' book also shared with Stapledon's an understanding of the change wrought in the nature of war by the development of air power; both writers included harrowing depictions of cities destroyed in aerial bombardments, which proved an all too accurate prediction of what was to happen in the actual second World War.
Wells creates a framing device by claiming that the book is his edited version of notes written by an eminent diplomat, Dr. Philip Raven, who had been having dream visions of a history textbook published in 2106, and wrote down what he could remember of it.
The book is dominated by Wells's belief in a world state as the solution to mankind's problems. Wells successfully predicted the Second World War, although he envisaged it dragging on into the 1960s, being finally ended only by a devastating plague that almost destroys civilization. Wells then envisages a benevolent dictatorship - 'The Dictatorship of the Air' (a term obviously modeled on 'The Dictatorship of the proletariat') - arising from the controllers of the world's surviving transportation systems (the only people with global power). This dictatorship promotes science, enforces Basic English as a global lingua franca, and eradicates all religion, setting the world on the route to a peaceful utopia. When the dictatorship finds it necessary to kill political opponents, the condemned persons are given a chance to emulate the ancient philosophers Socrates and Seneca and take a poison tablet in a congenial environment of their choice.